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GUEST COMMENTARY: Is Bush in the Cut and Run Business Now?

Posted by kinchendavid on November 2, 2006

By Joseph J. Honick

Bainbridge Island, WA  — If you listened closely this past week and read carefully about the communications from the Iraqi Prime Minister and the out come of his teleconference with President Bush, you could get the distinct impression that there is some “cutting and running” going on at the top.

Earlier, Iraqi PM Nuri al- Maliki asserted his friendship for America but declared in no uncertain terms that he is “not America’s man in Iraq.” That stirred life into the White House Press Office and initiated that teleconference with President Bush that resulted in a quasi-agreement to suggest no disagreement existed. But, wait a minute, didn’t the Prime Minister also point out that he would not be the participant in any timelines for American withdrawal or any other schedules?

It is the business of timelines and schedules that has sparked a lot of wondering in the Nation’s Capital and elsewhere among those who daily have to decipher the cryptography of politicians. Many recall the Nixon years as the Vietnam war had caused deep divisions among Americans of all stripes. Then a theme began to evolve to “Vietnamize” the war as a means of moving forward on withdrawal of American troops.

Few who were around at that time can forget the sight of panicked Vietnamese struggling to get on an overloaded American helicopter trying to take off from the roof of the Embassy. It was virtually the final step of our withdrawal from the conflict that took an estimated 58,000 American So today, the carefully constructed language that has moved from “stay the course” to something called “flexibility.” Many wonder why flexibility was not always a part of any strategy in Iraq, given the changing circumstances and continuing insurgency attacks across that nation.

When Congressman John P. Murtha, D-PA, a decorated combat veteran from the Vietnam era called for consideration of some scheduled withdrawal, he and other Democrats were accused of cowardice and supporting a philosophy of “cut and run” in the face of the enemy. When Murtha recently campaigned for a fellow Democrat in Colorado Springs, a spokesperson for a Republican candidate asserted Murtha’s appearance was a disgrace.

Now, however, the chatter from the White House and its spokesman, former journalist Tony Snow, claims that flexibility always has been at the heart of our strategy despite the firm “stay the course” slogan.

Given the nose dive of public support for the war itself as well as its handling as the deaths of American service men and women reached the 3,000 level, thousands of wounded and daily bombings by insurgents, elections on November 7 will be perhaps the most crucial in a generation. As the nation moves toward that day, questions now arise as to whether the White House itself may be considering an element of the “cut and run” in the guise of “flexibility” and warnings of timetables for the Iraqis to take control of their own destinies.

Whatever terms can be applied to the apparently new strategy, there is something to be taken from the reality that so many Republican candidates have decided they did not want the President to help them campaign this time around.

It is not unprecedented, but it is a critical statement as the war in Iraq threatens to continue indefinitely with no apparent element with whom to negotiate either a truce or a surrender.

* * *

Honick is president of GMA International Ltd., the consulting firm he established in 1975. Its principal areas involved working to broaden business opportunities abroad for American companies and assisting them in preparing for such effort. He is also a regular contributor to Huntington News Network.

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